Can Your Job Make You Ill?

April 27th, 2016
Can Your Job Make You Ill?

According to a 2013 study conducted by the charity Mind, work is the biggest cause of stress in people’s lives. One in three people admitted that their work life was more stressful than financial problems or health concerns.

The survey found that stress in the workplace led to 7 percent of people having suicidal thoughts and one in five people developing an anxiety disorder. The research also suggested that workplace stress caused people to start smoking or turn to sleeping tablets as a coping mechanism.

But what exactly causes workplace stress? We’ve put together a list of the 10 most common work stressors to help employers identify the best ways to keep their business a stress-free zone and promote happiness among their employees.

  1. Too much work! Excessive workloads and unrealistic deadlines cause people to feel rushed, overwhelmed and under pressure. This is stressful enough in itself, but rushing can lead to mistakes and therefore increase stress and anxiety even further.
  1. Not enough work. On the flipside, insufficient workloads often make people feel as though their skills are not being used to their full potential. This can in turn lead to feelings of inadequacy and cause workers to feel under-appreciated and as though their work isn’t good enough, which makes them worry about losing their job and increases their stress levels even more.
  1. Poor working relationships. A lack of interpersonal support within the workplace can lead to feelings of isolation, which can cause depressive thoughts.
  1. Bullying and harassment. Both of these make for a very unpleasant atmosphere in the workplace and can have a massive effect on the individual’s mental health and wellbeing.
  1. Issues with management. Ineffective or weak management can cause employees to feel as though they lack a sense of direction. On the other hand, over-management can harm self-esteem by making workers feel under-valued.
  1. Blame culture. In this instance, blame culture refers to a situation where employees worry excessively about getting things wrong or are fearful about admitting mistakes. This understandably leaves the worker with feelings of guilt, or if they worry about making mistakes, constant anxiety when carrying out work.
  1. Concerns about job security. This is a constant source of stress for employees in almost all industries. It can cause sleepless nights, along with concerns about salary level and lack of career progression.
  1. Promotion. Although for the most part, a promotion or pay rise can improve self-esteem, it can also lead to excessive stress due to fears about not meeting the requirements of the new role or being unable to adapt to possible changes in dynamic with other employees.
  1. Being kept in the dark. Many employees feel stressed about being kept out of the loop in terms of significant changes to the business. This is because it leaves them feeling uncertain about their future and this increases anxiety levels.
  1. Multiple reporting lines. If employees have several managers to report to, it might cause a great deal of stress when each manager asks for their work to be prioritised.

According to Mind, one in six employees is experiencing stress, depression or anxiety right this very moment. Despite this, their study suggests that the majority of managers don’t feel as though they’ve had adequate training to support them in dealing with workplace stress.

Three in five people surveyed said that if their employer took action to support their staff’s metal wellbeing, they would feel more motivated, loyal and committed to their job and more likely to recommend the business as a good place to work.

What can be done?

Dealing with stress in the workplace is a difficult task for employers, but it is important to be able to spot the signs and know the right responses. It’s important to conduct yourself in a way that minimises stress and promotes a healthy, happy working environment.

As an employer, actively managing potential causes of workplace stress and preventing pressures from becoming excessive is essential. Anti-bullying policies should always be in place and employee working hours and workloads should always be monitored to ensure they get regular breaks and are not taking on so much work that their health is affected.

Improving mental wellbeing at work doesn’t need to be costly. Research by Mind has suggested that flexible working hours and generous holiday leave would greatly improve mental wellbeing among employees.


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